At least once a year, a news report will surface about how much time we spend at the office. It’s often during the holidays in December or the summer months, when it is highlighted by the many tourists in our city, that we live to work instead of work to live…Roughly 1/3 of our lives. This is not just the corporate lawyers or the ad agency folks pulling an all-nighter, but virtually everyone I speak to. We are working longer and harder than ever before.
While attending the Green Real Estate Conference in Toronto a few weeks ago (www.realestateforums.com/greenref/en/index.php), it got me to thinking about “work being the new home”, and as a result, how different the value-set may be when our landlord is more in control of what goes on in our space.
We might recycle at home, conserve energy, minimize waste and do our part for the environment, but what happens when we go to work? Do we consciously or unconsciously surrender control?
Do we bother to shut off the lights because we are not paying the bill?
Are we scrutinizing the ingredients in, and the packaging used for our lunches hauled back from the food court?
Do we care? Do we have a voice?
Shouldn’t we, since we spend so much time there?
Well, I thought so and I’d like to tell you about a break-out session during that conference that highlighted Cadillac Fairview (CF) – a progressive company that is making what some see as a ground-breaking move in the real estate industry. Engaging tenants (you and me) to help them make the workplace a more sustainable, cost-effective and comfortable place to spend the day. In other words, they are aligning the value-set of home, with the workplace.
How did they start? Simply enough it seems (in 2010) when CF asked some of its tenants to participate in a Green Council with a time commitment of an half day, once a quarter. A baseline was established at the first meeting to help Council members understand what CF was already doing in the area of sustainability. It was obvious – they were already doing a lot and it was important that everyone had an awareness, appreciation and build advocacy. A few impactful slides were used during the session to describe the essence of what they wanted the Council to ponder – “buildings don’t use energy”………”people do.” Interesting enough, but could a landlord and its tenants partner to change behaviour through small acts and get their respective companies to make an impact?
It would seem this grass roots approach has resulted in some big wins for CF. With the help of its consultancy partner Perkins+Will, the Council worked together on a number of campaigns to raise awareness and change behaviour. It also provided a forum for tenants to learn from one another and build networks.
The result: the firm has created an environment where lease renewals are partnership discussions and problem identification leads to proactive resolution. The environment and sustainability are now on the tenants’ radar and many within the Council have added these elements to their decision-making processes in construction, capital spend and facilities projects. Now, everyone is on a first name basis and no one seems to miss the labels (landlord and tenant).
In the conference closing panel, industry leaders from Bentall Kennedy and Oxford Properties mentioned that the forward-looking trends in the quest to “green the real estate industry” were:
1) investing in existing and building sustainable properties;
2) improving the ability to measure efforts and consumption, and lastly;
3) engaging the tenants of their buildings to help them make a difference.
Do you sense a trend?
As Earth Day approaches this Sunday, perhaps this is a perfect opportunity to GET ENGAGED, reach out to your landlord and ask them what you can do together to make work, a better place to live.
If you want to learn more about what the Cadillac Fairview Green Council accomplished last year, check out their report. Read on and replicate.